Netbooks are the ultimate in portable computing. With a netbook in your bag, you're carrying everything you need to free yourself from your desk and get online on the go.
What are netbooks?
A netbook is a scaled-down version of normal notebook or portable PC. Netbooks can be half the size of a standard portable computer, but come complete with all the features you’d expect on a full size version, such as backlit LED displays, multiple USB connections, integrated speakers, Wi-Fi, and often even a built-in webcam.
A netbook is the most up-to-date, economical, energy-efficient and lightweight portable computer around.
With the mobile broadband revolution well underway, netbooks are proving that portability is the key to on-demand connectivity. And while replacing your current computer with a brand new netbook may seem a bit beyond your budget, this need not be the case.
In fact, until recently it was relatively easy to pick a free netbook from your mobile broadband provider when you signed up for select mobile broadband contracts. However, with tablets becoming more and more popular, you're now much more likely to find a mobile broadband deal bundled with a slate than a netbook.
To find out more about broadband and free netbooks check out our Guide to free netbooks
What make a netbook different?
Netbooks have a few distinct and defining features:
Netbooks are small
Netbooks are characterised by their small size and are best defined as as lightweight, easily portable computers. Most netbooks have a 9 or 10 inch screen. Those which have 10-inch screens typically have a normal-sized keyboard, making them the ultimate in compact computing.
Netbooks are designed for web-users
Netbooks do generally have fewer features than standard portable PCs. A netbook typically has less processing power because netbooks are targeted at people who want to access web-based applications.
Netbooks are great value
Netbooks are designed to be cost-effective. Because of their reduced processing power and relatively limited memory, buying a netbook is cheaper than purchasing an all-singing, all-dancing, full-size portable computer.
Netbooks may not run Windows
Although many of the netbooks on the market run Windows XP Home edition, Windows 7 or Windows 8, some of the netbooks out there are set-up to run a custom version of GNU or Linux operating system.
But don’t let not being au fait with custom netbook operating systems stand in the way of a great netbook deal. Operating systems, such as the Ubuntu Netbook remix, are actually incredibly easy to get your head around.
Some netbooks will run using applications available on the internet. This is known as cloud computing and is a great way of enabling manufacturers to produce a computer that requires less powerful hardware. It also helps keeps costs down for netbook users.
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Who are netbooks for?
Netbooks are great for anyone who wants to use the internet on the go. From students to business people, there are thousands of us who'd love to be able to carry around a lightweight computer to access the internet at the touch of a button wherever we are.
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Broadband and netbook deals:
At one stage internet service providers offered a series of great lightweight portable netbook deals bundled with mobile broadband. Unfortunately, these have largely disappeared, but could yet make a comeback.
However, mobile broadband and netbooks really do go hand-in-hand. So even if you can't find a mobile broadband and free netbook deal to sign up to, netbooks are well worth looking into if you're in the market for a laptop. You can then sign up for a separate mobile broadband contract to get you online.
Interested in a laptop instead? Compare the latest free laptop deals and offers: Laptop Deals and Offers